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Communism

Re: Communism
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2010, 01:36:35 AM »
Quote from: "Will"
The timescale was off, but things seem to be progressing exactly as modeled. Less and less power is with the workers in rich countries and more and more money is finding its way to the top 1% of the populations. This is obviously unsustainable. Either the governments will have to step in, which is unlikely due to the level of influence corporations have in government, or there will be revolution in one form or another.

I think there are two points here.

First, even if our current system is unstable the class system is no longer shaped in the manner so meticulously explored by Marx and Engels. We no longer live in a world where a private enterprise class (the bourgeoisie) own the means of production and land to exploit a local working class (proletariat). Now we have corporate and market structure which means that the bourgeoisie class has actually expanded, creating the white-collar or middle-class. The proletariat too have changed character, we now have blue-collar workers protected by welfare structures, and we also have the wretched and dispossessed of the wider world. Marx's critique does not take any of these changes into account, the manner in which he predicted change could simply no longer occur because the world he describes no longer exists.

Secondly, what we mean by stability has fundamentally changed since the 19th Century. While it may well be the case that the current system isn't stable, it will not be for the reasons Marx claims. Marx's view is that history can be understood in simple Hegelian terms. The proliferation of ideas such as evolution by natural selection and chaos theory, have shown how complex systems defy simple predictions. If capitalism over the last century has shown us anything it has shown us it is its adaptability, its complexity. Marx's view is borne of the enlightenment, a mechanical predictable universe. Things simply aren't that simple.

Everything changes, that is the only constant, but those who try and plot the course in advance, like Marx, are always wrong.

Re: Communism
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2010, 03:22:31 AM »
Quote from: "penfold"
We no longer live in a world where a private enterprise class (the bourgeoisie) own the means of production and land to exploit a local working class (proletariat).

I think we do.  For example, I don't own the means of production.  I own stock in mutual funds, which own stock in corporations, which own the means of production.  The amount of stock I own is too miniscule to make a difference in any conceivable decision process.  I'm proletariat.  I'm white collar but all that means is that I sit at a desk all day instead of lifting crates.  I and the dock worker are pretty much equal in terms of economic power.  Meanwhile, there are people who own so much stock in my company that they sit on the Board of Directors.  They're bourgeoisie.
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Re: Communism
« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2010, 04:04:21 AM »
Quote from: "Inevitable Droid"
Quote from: "penfold"
We no longer live in a world where a private enterprise class (the bourgeoisie) own the means of production and land to exploit a local working class (proletariat).

I think we do.  For example, I don't own the means of production.  I own stock in mutual funds, which own stock in corporations, which own the means of production.  The amount of stock I own is too miniscule to make a difference in any conceivable decision process.  I'm proletariat.  I'm white collar but all that means is that I sit at a desk all day instead of lifting crates.  I and the dock worker are pretty much equal in terms of economic power.  Meanwhile, there are people who own so much stock in my company that they sit on the Board of Directors.  They're bourgeoisie.

Well I won't argue that white collar work is anything but dehumanising and exploitative. That wasn't my point (though in the great hierarchy of exploitation you guys don't do to bad). The fact is you are not the proletariat of Marx, you are protected by employment law, you have myriad social and economic rights. You (probably) own land and property. You have a pension. If it all goes wrong you have a welfare system to help. In Marx's Europe none of these things existed.

As for your board of directors it should be noted they own the means of production but only by virtue of their corporate office, and that at with the good will of shareholders (and to a lesser extend stakeholders - including you).

I'm not schilling for the status quo but I simply cannot agree that the current corporate model of ownership can be read into Marx's system.

That is not to say Marx does not have value. His hermeneutic, the identification of economic power structures, is still useful; but his 'scientific' view of the economic structure of capital is both hopelessly outdated and ultimately misguided.

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Re: Communism
« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2010, 05:17:36 AM »
Quote from: "penfold"
First, even if our current system is unstable the class system is no longer shaped in the manner so meticulously explored by Marx and Engels. We no longer live in a world where a private enterprise class (the bourgeoisie) own the means of production and land to exploit a local working class (proletariat). Now we have corporate and market structure which means that the bourgeoisie class has actually expanded, creating the white-collar or middle-class. The proletariat too have changed character, we now have blue-collar workers protected by welfare structures, and we also have the wretched and dispossessed of the wider world. Marx's critique does not take any of these changes into account, the manner in which he predicted change could simply no longer occur because the world he describes no longer exists.
The class system doesn't have to follow the Marx blueprint in order to still collapse in a manner that would facilitate the move to worker-control. The collapse only needs to happen as a function of what's subsequently understood to be the class system, where the super-rich maintain and grow their wealth at the direct determent of the working man. Communism comes into being as it is considered to be a counter to what it follows. What we have now, this inevitable incarnation of capitalism in which the titans rig the game, has a polar opposite system. When things do eventually crash, which may very well be the next bubble, people will look for alternatives and even if just out of emotion they will seek a system as drastically different from what we have now. That's likely when the communism experiment will begin.
Quote from: "penfold"
Secondly, what we mean by stability has fundamentally changed since the 19th Century. While it may well be the case that the current system isn't stable, it will not be for the reasons Marx claims. Marx's view is that history can be understood in simple Hegelian terms. The proliferation of ideas such as evolution by natural selection and chaos theory, have shown how complex systems defy simple predictions. If capitalism over the last century has shown us anything it has shown us it is its adaptability, its complexity. Marx's view is borne of the enlightenment, a mechanical predictable universe. Things simply aren't that simple.
You're thinking about the weather. Marx is talking about climate. Weather is amazingly difficult to predict because there are so many tiny variables that contribute to whether it will rain next week. I'm sure you've heard of the butterfly effect, which is a sort of introduction to chaos. The thing about chaos, though, is that when you pull back and increase the scale, patterns do tend to emerge. That's why climate science is capable to see patterns in hundreds of millions of years in climate and make predictions going out on the same scale. The same is theoretically true of economics. You can hide behind the amazing complexity of the moment, with all of its tiny variables (variables like you and me), but over time, variables cease to be a trillion tiny, unpredictable things and become a pattern. I'm not sure if Marx understood this all those years ago, but regardless we can make long-term economic predictions. I'm not even an economist and I can tell you we're going to see another bubble burst in the next 24 months that won't be as big as 2008, and within 5 years of that we'll see something worse. The only true variables are the rules of the game, which only change about once a decade if that. If the United States gets a progressive or a radical in 2024, we may see the rules change, but we won't see meaningful change before then.
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« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2010, 05:47:16 AM »
Quote from: "Inevitable Droid"
Quote from: "hunterman317"
I don't believe in socialism, but what's wrong with pure communism?

How do you define socialism and how do you define pure communism?

Why don't you believe in socialism?

As for me, I think robotics will eventually shake society to its roots.  When robots can do anything human laborers can do, and cost the corporations far less, robots will put humans out of work.  What happens next will be anyone's guess.  It won't surprise me if it involves bullets.

Communism is socialism without boundaries. Socialism is everyone's paychecks being clipped by the government so they are near or exactly the same. Communism is everyone contributing to a common fund, and the government paying it back as it can. I can imagine a government with two bodies.
1. military
2. bank

Others might say we need a third body, but I don't think we do. I'm really a libertarian who sees hope in something shunned by society because of its history of being associated with hating minorities and global terror.

As far as the robot thing goes, I agree. You know why people will get shot? greed.
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Re:
« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2010, 07:43:37 AM »
Quote from: "hunterman317"
Communism is socialism without boundaries. Socialism is everyone's paychecks being clipped by the government so they are near or exactly the same. Communism is everyone contributing to a common fund, and the government paying it back as it can.
Um, no.

Socialism is a system in which ownership and control of production and distribution are rested with the people usually through a central government. An example of socialism is the home you probably grew up in. When you grew up, you likely had one or more parents working according to his or her ability but contributing to the household as a whole. The parent or parents controlled the distribution of funds to maintain the household. If one parent was unable to work, the remaining workers pick up the slack so that the household can continue to function. You didn't have to work until you were older because you were unable to work, but once you were old enough, you either contribute to the parental household or you begin your own household and the whole thing starts over again. Why would people do this? Because they value the people in the system enough to contribute to the whole instead of just for him or herself. Socialism is about equality and cooperation (whereas capitalism is about competition and individualism).

Communism is similar to socialism, but lacks central control. Communism is more like roommates. There's no central power, but rather power is rested evenly among all roommates. They all have individual responsibilities which contribute to the whole, they have common ownership of most things, and they collectively rule themselves.

I hope this has cleared the semantic debate up.
I want bad people to look forward to and celebrate the day I die, because if they don't, I'm not living up to my potential.

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Re: Communism
« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2010, 01:44:19 PM »
Quote
Communism is similar to socialism, but lacks central control. Communism is more like roommates. There's no central power, but rather power is rested evenly among all roommates. They all have individual responsibilities which contribute to the whole, they have common ownership of most things, and they collectively rule themselves.

This is why I don't think communism can work with people.  What do you do with a roommate who doesn't want the new carpet, and argues against it, finally refusing to contribute to it?  What do you do with the roommate who steals?  In short, like anarchism, it relies the best of human nature, and glosses over the worst.
Illegitimi non carborundum.

Re: Communism
« Reply #22 on: November 12, 2010, 06:13:25 PM »
Quote from: "Thumpalumpacus"
Quote from: "Croaker"
I'm curious as to why it fails - what is it about humans that makes it so hard to maintain?

In a word, greed.

Case in point:

http://www.theonion.com/articles/marxists-apartment-a-microcosm-of-why-marxism-does,1382/

 :D

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Re: Communism
« Reply #23 on: November 12, 2010, 06:36:51 PM »
Quote from: "Thumpalumpacus"
This is why I don't think communism can work with people.  What do you do with a roommate who doesn't want the new carpet, and argues against it, finally refusing to contribute to it?  What do you do with the roommate who steals?  In short, like anarchism, it relies the best of human nature, and glosses over the worst.
Only it works every day. It worked for me in college perfectly well. Sure, you don't always agree, but things end up working out so long as members of the community respect each other and are able to recognize and adopt democratic principles. Communism is strikingly democratic in nature.
I want bad people to look forward to and celebrate the day I die, because if they don't, I'm not living up to my potential.

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Re: Communism
« Reply #24 on: November 12, 2010, 07:40:08 PM »
Quote from: "elliebean"
Collateral damage, you might say?
Precisely. Just a speck of roadkill.  :P
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Re: Communism
« Reply #25 on: November 12, 2010, 09:04:41 PM »
Quote from: "Will"
Quote from: "Thumpalumpacus"
This is why I don't think communism can work with people.  What do you do with a roommate who doesn't want the new carpet, and argues against it, finally refusing to contribute to it?  What do you do with the roommate who steals?  In short, like anarchism, it relies the best of human nature, and glosses over the worst.
Only it works every day. It worked for me in college perfectly well. Sure, you don't always agree, but things end up working out so long as members of the community respect each other and are able to recognize and adopt democratic principles. Communism is strikingly democratic in nature. [Emphasis added]

However, the emphasized condition does not show itself often in human societies of nationwide scope.
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Re: Communism
« Reply #26 on: November 12, 2010, 09:09:36 PM »
Neither does pure capitalism.  :cool:
I want bad people to look forward to and celebrate the day I die, because if they don't, I'm not living up to my potential.

Thumpalumpacus

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Re: Communism
« Reply #27 on: November 12, 2010, 09:23:05 PM »
Quote from: "Will"
Neither does pure capitalism.  :cool:

Yeah, as I've said already:

Quote
No, Communism is no answer. Like Libertarianism, it sounds great until you realize that its framers forgot one thing: human nature.
Illegitimi non carborundum.

Re: Communism
« Reply #28 on: November 13, 2010, 01:49:59 PM »
Quote from: "Will"
You're thinking about the weather. Marx is talking about climate. Weather is amazingly difficult to predict because there are so many tiny variables that contribute to whether it will rain next week. I'm sure you've heard of the butterfly effect, which is a sort of introduction to chaos. The thing about chaos, though, is that when you pull back and increase the scale, patterns do tend to emerge. That's why climate science is capable to see patterns in hundreds of millions of years in climate and make predictions going out on the same scale. The same is theoretically true of economics. You can hide behind the amazing complexity of the moment, with all of its tiny variables (variables like you and me), but over time, variables cease to be a trillion tiny, unpredictable things and become a pattern. I'm not sure if Marx understood this all those years ago, but regardless we can make long-term economic predictions. I'm not even an economist and I can tell you we're going to see another bubble burst in the next 24 months that won't be as big as 2008, and within 5 years of that we'll see something worse. The only true variables are the rules of the game, which only change about once a decade if that. If the United States gets a progressive or a radical in 2024, we may see the rules change, but we won't see meaningful change before then.

Well I agree that human self-organisation could be chaotic. I also agree that our current system does show a small degree of periodicity (certainly at the vague level of "boom and bust") - though it should be noted that almost all long term (5yr+) economic predictions are wrong on detail.

However this chaotic interpretation is simply not open for Marx.

Marx's view of history was essentially Hegelain. In Das Kapital the explicit premise is that history is deterministic, periodic, and predictable. Chaos theory, on the other hand, talks of systems that are deterministic, non-periodic, and non-predictable (Cf Lorenz Deterministic Non-Periodic Flow). Its apples and oranges.

Moreover I think that Marx's view of history as predictable is essentially in error; the fantasy of a Newtonian mindset which believed that all complex systems could be modeled as the interactions of simple forces. It is no coincidence that Marx labeled his system "scientific socialism".


edit
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Just to be clear, the reason why I think this is important, is that the whole of Marx's theory rests upon his view of history. It is because he sees History as deterministic and predictable that he thinks by close analysis of the system of capital, one can predict what will happen to it; the reality was far more complex; his predictions simply failed to materialise.

Re: Communism
« Reply #29 on: November 13, 2010, 04:00:52 PM »
Quote from: "penfold"
Just to be clear, the reason why I think this is important, is that the whole of Marx's theory rests upon his view of history. It is because he sees History as deterministic and predictable that he thinks by close analysis of the system of capital, one can predict what will happen to it; the reality was far more complex; his predictions simply failed to materialise.

I sometimes wonder if Franklin Roosevelt and his allies had an agenda of specifically making sure Marx's predictions wouldn't materialize, by altering the key economic parameters of American society just enough to relieve the pressures that would have resulted in revolution.
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